The Joint Session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of National Assembly Thursday unanimously considered and adopted the annual activity reports and audited financial statements of the National Training Authority (NTA) for the year ended 31st December 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Presenting the reports before the Committee, Edrissa Colley, officer-in-charge of the National Training Authority (NTA), said their annual report for 2010 reflects the Authority's enthusiasm in establishing itself as the lead authority on Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
He explained that in pursuit of its core mandate mainly to regulate, supervise and monitor all public training institutions, there has been a considerable degree of success in the implementation of programmes and the Gambia Skills Qualification Framework -all geared towards quality outcomes and competences based training. While admitting that a lot of ground is still to be covered, he said efforts to tidy up grey areas are ongoing.
Colley said the Authority continues to function with two directorates namely, Directorate of Planning and Policy and Directorate of Quality Assurance, adding that the work establishment of the third- Directorate of Finance and Administration is ongoing. However, he said the functions and operations of the directorate are carried out by an administrative manager and finance manager.
Colley told the PAC/PEC Committee that the Indian government and the Japanese Foreign Ministry offered short-term training programmes and these fully funded courses were attended by both technical and support staff of NTA. "Under the same Indian Scholarship SCAAP (Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme), the Accounts Assistant II underwent a short course on Financial Management in 2010 whilst the attachment and Industrial Training Assistant benefitted from short course for young leaders of African Countries/Vocational Training Course courtesy of the Japanese Foreign Ministry through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency Senegal Office," he said.
He explained that the Apprenticeship and Industrial Specialist was admitted to a Master of Education Programme in Technical and Vocational Education in September 2010 and this programme was partly funded by the NTA.
Colley revealed that 27 training providers were registered and accredited at the beginning of the year. "Three were served with closure notices with timeline to remedy their shortcomings. Following lead body recommendation that training providers must be both registered and accredited at the same time, 12 applications were received during the period under review. Five applicants were rejected and seven approved, bringing the total number of registered training providers to 31," he further explained.
He also told the Committee that public training providers, namely; The Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), Management Development Institute (MDI), Gambia Hotel School and President's International Award Scheme are not cooperating with the NTA for full compliance to the registration and accreditation requirements. Despite the on-going process of integrating GTTI and MDI into the University of the Gambia, he said these institutions would continue to run TVET programmes and this requires NTA to intervene to ensure quality assurance.
New Head office
Colley revealed that the NTA is still housed in two adjacent rented apartments on Kairaba Avenue while efforts are being made to construct a three-storey building on a Gambia government allocated land measuring 30mÃ—50m in the Kanifing Institutional Reserve area. He said progress recorded on this project includes a perimeter fence and the development of a blueprint with accompanying revised bill of quality of eighteen million.
According to Colley, the Authority has developed a strong working partnership with other institutions like the Gambia Priority Employment Programme (Gamjobs), to support the acquisition of employable skills. He said Gamjob's support included assistance to Fajara Skills Development Centre to train 150 youths and women in the areas of tailoring, hair dressing and beauty therapy.
He further stated that the NTA also received support from the Gamjobs Project for the training of 100 apprentices targeting youth and women to acquire recognised employable skills. He explained that the support was aimed at enhancing skills training in the formal sector to support the Authority's drive in improving quality, relevance and access.
Colley said that the recognition of skills acquired under this training would provide opportunities for transition to higher level training in the formal sector, ultimately supporting the implementation and full operation of the GSQ in the informal sector.
Labour Market Information
Colley informed the Committee that the main function of this unit is to collect and analyse data to inform management decision-making to address skills gaps, enrolment, etc. He added that the 2010 enrolment survey on institutions revealed that 2, 214 trainees were registered by 36 training providers.
Colley said the National Education and Technical Training Levy (NETTL) is the main source of income for the Authority to implement its programmes. He added: "The amended NETTL Act of 2005 empowers the Commissioner General of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) to collect on behalf of the NTA, 0.25% of Gross Annual Turnover from employers with five or more employees. Seventy-five percent of the total collection is paid to the NTA and a balance of 25% paid into the government's Consolidated Fund to supplement budgetary allocation for education."
Municipal levy on training providers operation license
Colley said concerns raised by the training providers regarding operational charges levied on them by the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) are still not resolved. He added that in addition to NTA's follow-up on the issue, the training providers through their association made complementary representation to the Lord Mayor of KMC but no fruitful outcome is yet be achieved.
According to him, the implications of the charges as was noted in 2010 would create additional fiscal burden on training providers that would be transferred onto the trainees by way of hiking tuition fees and this ultimately defeats the efforts of the Authority in making TVET more accessible and affordable for Gambians.
Colley explained that curriculum is a complementary activity to Skills Standards Development that adds value to the developed skills by converting them into teaching curricula. He said during the year, a teaching curriculum was finalised to harmonise standards including accounting, banking and finance, marketing, human resources and English communication.
He added that the curricula were developed in workshops by trainers, subject specialist, training specialists and curriculum and instructional materials designers in consistency with conventional practices.
Lamin K. Barrow, a compliance officer from Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) revealed that NTA was found to be mainly compliant with the Public Procurement Act. The PAC/PEC Committee then raised comments, concerns and observations before adopting both reports.